School Mental Health

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 224–234 | Cite as

Physical Activity, School Climate, and the Emotional Health of Adolescents: Findings from 2010 Canadian Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) Study

  • Mary-Anne ReidEmail author
  • Jeffrey MacCormack
  • Sean Cousins
  • John G. Freeman
Original Paper


Positive mental health and well-being for school-aged children have become key areas of research, with studies that show school climate and physical activity as being potentially modifiable correlates of these outcomes. As such, the purpose of this study was to examine the role school climate and physical activity play in the well-being and emotional problems of younger (elementary) and older (secondary) students. Using data obtained from the 2009/2010 administration of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey, this study plotted the combined and independent roles of school climate and physical activity in the perceived emotional well-being and emotional problems of adolescents across Canada (N = ~26,000 students, Grades 6–10). We ran a series of regressions to assess both the independent and combined influences of physical activity and school climate on (1) emotional well-being and (2) emotional problems. Our findings suggest that (1) there is no significant effect of grade, (2) for emotional well-being, both physical activity and school climate contribute significantly and relatively equally and independently, (3) for emotional problems, physical activity and school climate have independent but differential contributions, (4) physical activity and school climate are more predictive of emotional well-being than of emotional problems. In conclusion, school climate and physical activity are potentially modifiable factors for school settings and could potentially be targeted to facilitate emotional well-being and reduce emotional problems in young people.


Physical activity Emotional well-being Adolescents Emotional problems School climate HBSC 



The authors wish to thank Matt King for his help with the HBSC data for the use of this manuscript. In addition, the authors would like to thank Dr. Don Klinger for his helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript, and to the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) for allowing us to present our research at the 2014 CSSE conference (Brock University, May 2014). The co-Principal Investigators of the 2009/2010 HBSC study in Canada were Will Pickett and John Freeman.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary-Anne Reid
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jeffrey MacCormack
    • 1
  • Sean Cousins
    • 1
  • John G. Freeman
    • 1
  1. 1.Queen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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